Ahh, parenthood. Do you often find yourself toning down on the spice level of your foods after you had kids To avoid making two meals?

This Make it Mild or Spicy Mapo Tofu is one your whole family can enjoy filled with aromatics! It’s loaded with onions (or shallots), green onions (scallions), garlic, ginger, red pepper and preserved black beans. I think this may just be one of the most fragrant recipe I know. I wish you could smell it.

This recipe was inspired by my dad– I watched him cook fresh restaurant style black bean snails/clams several times before and I use this same base to make Mapo tofu from scratch– it’s quite delicious! It’s the Mapo tofu you’ve had at Szechuan restaurants, but adapted to be kid friendly.

Picture Walk


1 bunch scallion (I used about 4 bunches chopped– save a handful to use at the end of the recipe)

1/4 onion or 1 shallot

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1 red pepper chopped (any pepper should work)

1 lb ground pork

4 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

2 tbsp Oyster sauce

1 tbsp Sesame oil

4 tbsp water diluted with 1 tbsp cornstarch ( to thicken the sauce)

2 tbsp Preserved Chinese Pearl black beans minced

Salt and white pepper to taste


You can add an additional tbsp of soy sauce with 1 tbsp of water or oyster sauce with 1 tbsp of water if you like it saltier. I like to balance my soy sauce with water, or I feel it can easily get too salty.

You can add also add 2-6 tbsp of chicken broth if you prefer the Mapo tofu to be saucier. Just dissolve an extra tbsp of cornstarch to the chicken stock before mixing it in (to prevent gooey clumps of cornstarch).

Toppings to Make it Spicy

Sesame chili oil to drizzle on top

Broad bean paste to taste (saltier than it looks- don’t put much- adds the spicy and salt flavor of Mapo tofu you may be familiar when ordering from a Szechuan restaurant)

Szechuan black peppercorn ( I added 4-6 pieces or a small pinch — my husband usually like to double that).


1- Stir fry the aromatics: minced ginger and scallion, then garlic and onion (or shallots), then red pepper and preserved black beans for a few minutes.

2- Part to the side of the wok or large pan and cook the pork.

3- Add salt and white pepper to the pork to taste and mix around .

4- Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking wine and sesame oil to the ground pork. Mix in with the ground pork and cook pork until it’s done with no pink.

5- Mix the aromatics that was parted to the side earlier and mix it together with the ground pork .

5- Add in the drained and cubed tofu (I used firm tofu, but usually silken tofu is used to make Mapo tofu)

6- Gather 4 tbsp water + 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the empty tofu container and mix until dissolved.

7- Pour in water cornstarch mixture and mix everything. Cook 3-5 minutes and toss in what’s left of the scallions.

8- If you don’t want it spicy, have it as it is with white rice (Add little soy sauce if you prefer it saltier) .

9 – Add spicy toppings to taste and mix well if you want it spicy.

Have you ever had Mapo Tofu? What do you like to put in yours? If I didn’t have to make it mild, I would’ve added bird eyes chili’s to fry up with the aromatics, along with the Szechuan peppercorn and chili oil.

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